Bradley attorney Jeff Allen was quoted in Managing IP on the Ninth Circuit’s decision to strike down the inverse ratio rule in a copyright case against Led Zeppelin. The end of the rule, which states that the greater access a defendant has to a plaintiff’s work, the less the plaintiff needs to prove substantial similarity, is expected to have implications not just for the music industry but for all industries where copyright plays an important role. The court dismissed claims that Led Zeppelin’s song Stairway to Heaven infringed Taurus, a 1967 track written by Randy Wolfe.
Allen said that this ruling will affect a significant number of music copyright cases.
“The Ninth Circuit is the biggest court for music cases; because it’s the Ninth Circuit, the case will have a major influence on music copyright cases,” explained Allen.
Allen said the ruling indicates that the copyright pendulum is swinging in a way that will make cases easier on defendants.
“In the music industry and copyright infringement cases, there has been a shift that has stifled creativity. The bar has been lowered so much for creators that they’re almost scared to create new things because they’re afraid of being hit with a copyright infringement case.”
Allen said it’s possible that the jury would have ruled differently if it had been allowed to hear the recording of Taurus.
“But I think even though this is a case that is being decided in 2020, it deals with a song from the late 60s, and you have to apply the law,” he added.
The complete article, “Led Zeppelin Ruling Should Ease Burden on Copyright Defendants,” first appeared in the Managing IP on March 20, 2020.